MLS Insight: Project-Managing the Agile MLS

Published on
February 19, 2020
- By
Remine
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Here at Remine we lean into thought leadership, diverse perspective, and innovative solutions. Recently, we sat down with several MLS leaders to ask what the future looks like from their perspective. In this edition, MRED CEO Rebecca Jensen shares MLS insight in a Q and A style format.

What does the MLS of the future look like to you?

Rebecca: For us, it’s broker-focused. We see our role as sitting shotgun to the development of tools that will help brokerages do their business.  

In order to bring that about, we have to address the underlying infrastructure of the MLS system. We’re investing in things like the MLS grid and helping RESO develop standards so that we have an infrastructure in place to build a future around.

Do you think that the MLS is a tech company or a services company?

Rebecca: It has to both — you can’t just focus on one. The trick is to have processes in place for our brokers that allow our technology to truly enhance what they’re doing, rather than compete with it.

As a leader of an MLS, who do you consider your target audience? Who is the customer that you’re building an experience around?

Rebecca: Our mentality at MRED is always broker-first. Once we’ve satisfied their needs, then we ripple out. We of course want to make sure each one of our customers is happy, but we have to have a key stakeholder, and for us, that’s our brokers.

How would you describe the MLS of the future?

Rebecca: The first word that pops into my head is coordinated. In a sense the MLS needs to be the project manager — we’re there to coordinate the interest of all parties in the most efficient and effective way. We’re air traffic control. To me, the MLS of the future needs to fully adopt that role.

What other steps inside of your organization are you taking today to try and get toward this vision you have?

Rebecca: We’re an agile organization. We have very clearly defined goals — for example we have a list of goals for the year and we sit down as a staff and make vision boxes, put images and descriptors to our goals so that our staff can become as clear as possible about what we’re trying to build. The approach is very thoughtful and intentional.  

And then do our research and development. We prototype, we iterate. And then we go back to our stakeholders and get feedback to make sure we’re on the right path. Involvement is crucial — we involve our stakeholders along the way so that we don’t have any surprises. Things turn out poorly when people feel like they’re not involved. 

We’re also really clear on our core values. Everything we do is values-based. That’s part of our organizational philosophy.  

What are some of the big obstacles that are holding you back from reaching your goals?

Rebecca: Definitely resources. Not just more money — we need organizations to work together. Our force is greater when we work together. If we can get other organizations to buy-in to the same goals that MRED stakeholders have, we can all work together to get there more quickly. That’s why we’re heavily involved in RESO and the MLS grid, and even NAR.  

I think the industry is doing a lot better job of helping each other than when I first got into it in the 1990s. We’re more connected now. We need to keep that going for the benefit of our brokers, and by extension, the MLS.

What is Remine doing to help you get to where you need to go in terms of delivering the MLS of the future?

Rebecca: Reliability is a huge part of why we partner with Remine. But they’re also a very good fit for us culturally. Their process is very agile. They have a big development team and can act and iterate quickly, not just to fix issues but to take things to the next level and really make their solutions shine. In that sense, I don’t feel like I have to ask their team to be more forward-thinking. They just do it.

Are there companies or organizations outside of real estate that you think have an interesting vision of the future that you bring into MRED?

Rebecca: I listen to a podcast by Naval Ravikant – an angel investor out of Silicon Valley who co-founded AngelList. He talks a lot about the future of people and business and how the internet is fueling a shift in the size of businesses. Where the Industrial Revolution led to big businesses and big organizations, the internet is changing the structure of society through the rise of personal branding and marketing. I definitely see marks of that in real estate with the resurgence of teams and smaller, more niche real estate brands.

Keeping with the theme of positioning for the future, how would you describe your leadership style?

Rebecca: I bring a lot of what I learned in my agile project management classes in college to my leadership style. Listening first, integrating, always moving forward, not planning everything for the next ten years down to the smallest detail. We understand that we’re going to make mistakes along the way but we’re constantly moving forward and learning along the way.

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